Functional Test Automation without Programming

by Eitan Lavie, Product Manager, QualiSystems

Introduction
The need for functional test automation is increasing. Many companies have developed ‘homegrown’ software solutions to meet their automation requirements. Over time, these solutions have expanded to include additional features like data aggregation, analysis, reporting, monitoring, etc. In addition, a number of commercial test automation tools are available. Until recently, there was no single solution that addressed the totality of manufacturers’ needs.

Discussion
Currently, automated test development is costly in terms of time and resources. To create an automated test sequence for product testing, an engineer must first study the product to define the necessary test sequences and equipment, before specifying these requirements to the company’s in-house software team. The engineer then needs to test the sequence developed by the software team.

A system which allowed engineers to create the entire test sequence without programming would clearly offer major cost and time savings. By allowing skilled resources to be used for more complex, product-specific, development, the product’s time-to-market would be reduced, and quality improved. To facilitate creation of such test sequences, a programming-free interface is needed, that could allow construction via wizards and simple graphic tools. In contrast to the simple UI, the hardware interfacing, drivers, execution engines, data collection tools and reporting must be powerful enough to supply the complete coverage required for thorough testing.

However, test engineers need more than just an automated test development and execution tool. The definition of test automation must expand to include test procedure automation, to maximize its role in optimizing and streamlining the product manufacturing process. This expanded definition stipulates that the automation tool be able to produce and manage all the test methodology requirements, including: test sequence and documentation management; requirement traceability/test coverage; test result collection; automated troubleshooting and reporting; equipment tracking; version control; user permissions; execution schedulers; and real-time status display – both of tests and of test cycles.

Currently, many companies are diverting considerable R&D resources from the development of their products, and allocating them for the development of testing solutions. The upshot of this “side development” is a bloated product development overhead in terms of both person hours and time-to-market. A complete software solution that permits test engineers to directly improve and update automated test sequences will significantly reduce total test time. Importantly, such a system can ameliorate product quality by allowing engineers to create complex, comprehensive tests that react to real-time issues arising during product design, verification and validation.

The TestShell Suite
QualiSystems designed the TestShell application suite to provide a solution to the complete test process. TestShell’s automated test builder gives engineers the freedom to create complex tests without programming. R&D resources are therefore redirected to product design and development. TestShell’s automated test execution tools include distributed stations and testing farms, network and database tools, collection and synchronization of all test data; and business intelligence tools allowing automatic analysis of test results in reporting and web displays. TestShell turns testing from a bottleneck into a complete quality optimization solution.